Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's Ethics, Stupid!

Lawrence Martin summarizes Stephen Harper's central problem very succinctly:

The Prime Minister’s problem is that ethics is taking over from economics as the dominant issue in the public mind. That’s a trend he has to reverse; it’s poison.

So far, he has ignored the problem. His strategy has been to take comfort in the company of loyalists. That is why Ray Novak is in charge of the PMO. But loyalty to the prime minister is getting a little thin. Martin writes that, according to one anonymous Conservative MP, the natives are restless:

There are more than enough Conservative dissidents to get the required number [who would threaten to leave the caucus]. Most, he said, are veterans who have their pensions locked up and don’t have much to lose in offending the powers that be.

Would the rebels go so far as to issue this kind of ultimatum? Don’t bet your banjo on it. But the fact that the idea is being discussed is noteworthy in itself. It shows that the days of Mr. Harper’s acting as if l’état, c’est moi are passing. To use Mr. Rathgeber’s words, backbenchers are no longer prepared to be treated like “trained seals.” They are emboldened and they have explosives at their disposal.

And revolt in Conservative ranks is not a new phenomenon:

If history is any indication, backbench unrest is something Mr. Harper had better heed. It’s damaged the Conservatives in the past. John Diefenbaker and Joe Clark faced crippling caucus rebellions. In 2001, senior members of the Canadian Alliance party left the caucus to protest against Stockwell Day’s leadership. They forced his hand and they were glad they did – he resigned the leadership, opening the door to Stephen Harper to take over the party and lead it to success under the Conservative banner.

Paul Adams believes that we have entered the post Harper era. Like Mark Twain's reported death, it's a little early to write Stephen Harper's obituary. Nonetheless, it's time for him to reap what he has sown. His cavalier treatment of people has caught up with him.


Ck said...

I'm not that optimistic still. In fact, Paul Wells writes the contrary in his recent article.

In my most recent post, I have outlined the reasons why not only Harper won't leave, but he could well get another majority come 2015.

Truth is, and I have always said this. Canadians are too shallow and truth be told, they are convinced that Harper is the master of the economy. Both opposition parties had a chance to poke holes at that and they blew it...remember the missing 3.1 billion $? Harper's clan in the war room are probably already writing the ads, "Who do you want managing the economy? A drama teacher or a raging soshalist or an experienced party led by an economist? In fact, I would be that would be the ballot question.

As for Paul Wells, he writes that history has shown that a leader leaving the party pre-maturely was always worse for them the next election. From Mulroney to Ed Broadbent in 1993.

Plus, the house is sitting soon. And proroguation, which has worked well for Harper in the past, will likely be used again to change the channel.

I'm afraid we progressives live in a bubble and don't actually see or speak with actual Canadians. Truth is, they're shallow, ignorant of what is happening around them and only care that they pay lower taxes. Hard for Trudeau and Mulcair to campaign on higher taxes.

In fact, I have seen many who can give American Tea-partiers tea party lessons and perhaps they have.

Also, not the first time Harper or his clan have been in ethical troubles. They always get through it. They will get through this.

CK said...

Also, as for those so-called rebels, Harper will likely put them into his new cabinet to shut them up. It worked for Maxime Bernier. When he was ousted after leaving those documents around for ex-girlfriend Julie Couillard to see, he was flapping his gums quite often in disagreement with his master. Like Rathgeber, Bernier thought they weren't conservative enough. After last election, Harper gave him a junior ministry and he has been more quiet since. He even admitted on his blog that he wouldn't be able to speak as much now that he had this new portfolio. Sure Harper had a representation problem in cabinet to solve, but he could've appointed Jacques Gourdes (Only Quebec Con MP to not hold a cabinet post), who we never hear from or about, to cabinet instead.

Owen Gray said...

You may be right, ck. Certainly, Wells thinks that Harper is far from gone. And, given the support Rob Ford is still garnering in Toronto, he also may be far from gone.

I think, however, that if Stephen Harper is convinced he will not get a majority in the next election, he'll leave before it is called.

He does not wear humiliation well.

Owen Gray said...

That could be Harper's solution, ck.

What really matters is whether or not the caucus begins to treat Harper with the same contempt he has felt for them.

the salamander said...

.. Ethics .. We are being run by a political party that has none. Other than those baser ones, defined as 'situation ethics'.

The list of abject failure, related denial and scurrying obstruction of truth and fact, by the Harper Party is seemingly endless as a result.

Any classroom in the country could take this specific example of an ethics 'assignment' and have it on teacher's desk within a single school week. Here it is.

- What will be the likely cause for extinction of killer whales (orca) in the west coast waters of Canada ? Is there a failure involving ethics or is this strictly an environmental issue ? Who can prevent this happening.. and who should be held responsible once this happens? What other species will be involved and what marine systems could also collapse ?

I often use this as an example. It seems far less complicated than unethical government failures, deceit, incompetence or obstruction regarding tar sands, electoral fraud, F-35 procurement, deficits or prorogation, pensions or United Nations or Israel/Palestine.

People's eyes glaze over when 'ethics' & government & political parties are brought up, but mention killing off all the killer whales, or pandas from China, or poisoning beavers, or bears or trapping humming birds, or exporting Canada Geese as frozen food and there's suddenly fire in their eyes.. and a glow in their hearts.

I keep my premise simple .. Right now the top of the food chain in Canada's west coast waters (among other ecologies), is Stephen Harper. Yes, the most dangerous creature is our prime minister and he has plenty of willing help in his loutpack of Keith Ashfield, the BC government, Norwegian interests, Peter Kent, Joe Oliver and of course, Jerry Ritz.

The PMO, other Ministers and Harper Party are completely complicit suppressors, obstructors & mis-managers, including the departed Mr Wright, Ray Novak and all the rest .. as are any sellout advisors &pseudo scientists downstream.. This is nothing new.. there's years of evidence. Its suppressed, but its there.

Why ? Why is this staggering collective of politicians, corporations, bureaucrats and lobbyists able to get away with such obvious collusion, ignorance, obstruction and deceit.?

Yes, why ? Can they explain to schoolchildren how infected farmed salmon in pens will somehow replace the keystone wild salmon species after eliminating them ? Or explain how firing biologists was ethical & wise stewardship ?

When we can answer why they feel just fricken fine about killing off the killer whales and blowing up the entire inter-related marine and coastal ecosystems.. we may then understand why they are just as frickin smug and fine with every single other aspect of Canadian life they are currently responsible for screwing up..

They are public servants .. they are replaceable, they are supposed to be acting legally and ethically on our behalf.. not acting against our needs, dreams and wishes. Spying on us behind our backs... and lying to us in our house of government is not what they were elected or hired to do..

As always.. thank you for being a Canadian exemplar .. with such a glowing heart .. its so obvious, that you are still teaching Canadians about Canada

Lorne said...

Just one quick point to add here, Owen. I think that the dissidents know, from simple observation, that there will always be someone within the ranks to take their place at the Cabinet table they will never have a chance to sit at if they speak out. Look, for example at both Kelly Glover and Kellie Leitch, always visible in the upper right hand side of the screen whenever Harper deigns to speak in the house. Their looks of unqualified and absolute admiration for 'dear leader' could not be more telling.

Owen Gray said...

As is always the case with your comments, salamander, your eloquence covers the whole territory.

And it puts the lie to the spin generated by this government. Spinning is what they do best. Telling the truth is what they do least.

Owen Gray said...

And it is particularly depressing, Lorne, that people who have been acknowledged as intelligent in a field other than politics can be so ethically challenged.

Dana said...

"Ethically challenged" is a prerequisite for success in this modern world, Owen.

The phrase should start appearing in curricula vitae and positions available ads any day now.

Owen Gray said...

The problem, Dana, is that those who are "ethically challenged" don't know what the phrase means.